After acquiring a copy of Trio yesterday from Richard Coxford (formerly Bytown Bookshop, Ottawa) and George Ellenbogen’s Mcgill Poetry Series entry Winds of Unreason from Liam at Patrick McGahern’s (Ottawa), I decided to take stock of my small but growing Contact Press collection. Below you’ll find photos and some small notes on what I’ve currently got on my shelves, both Contact Press itself and a few related things. There are 15 Contact Press titles, 2 from the McGill Poetry Series, one from First Statement Press, an issue of Combustion, two of Michael Gnarowski’s bibliographic works, three books related to the Contact Poetry Reading Series, two Anansi reprints of Contact titles, a couple broadsides, and a small ad.
Only a few dozen Contact titles to go! Michael Gnarowski’s checklist puts the total at 49. Peter Miller cites 61 titles. Or, for the more ambitious, Nicky Drumbolis’s Contact checklist of official titles, variants, and related materials run to 355 items. It has some repeat items with signatures and associations, but it shows how much material can be gathered under the Contact name.
Donations welcome! Haha.
Contact Press (click through the photos for notes):
1952. The first title from Contact Press. Someone inexplicably wrote “Negro” on this copy.
1954. Eli Mandel’s name was misspelled on the cover, the title page, and before his poems. It was spelled correctly for his biographical statement. Corrected by hand with whiteout throughout at the time of publication.
1956. Inscribed by Contact editor Peter Miller in June 1960 while on a trip to Paris (he sold Contact titles while travelling). See Miller’s Sonata for Frog and Man later in this slideshow for another inscribed copy.
“Ray Souster is a very good friend of mine, and a good poet–the poet of Toronto.” Peter Miller.
Illustrations in En Mexico.
Another Miller inscription. “Remember that I am divided into boxed, but that each box holds things valid in themselves.”
1960. Louis Dudek. Literature and the Press. Sadly without the amazing dust jacket.
Co-published with The Ryerson Press.
Table of contents for New Wave Canada. Gradually accumulating signatures.
1967. The final title from the original run of Contact Press.
Raymond Souster’s final poems, published by posthumously by his literary executor (Donna Dunlop) under the Contact Press name (as per Souster’s wishes).
Michael Gnarowski’s Checklist
Michael Gnarowski’s index of Souster’s Contact Magazine. Contact released its first issue in January 1952, three months before Cerberus would appear as the first title under Contact Press.
Combustion, edited by Souster, ran from 1957 to 1960, with this final issue (number 15) published in early 1966 as a shared number with Victor Coleman’s Island Magazine (number 6).
Published by Padraig O Broin’s Clo Chluain Tairbh Press to coincide with Spiecker’s appearance in the Contact Poetry Reading Series.
Kenneth McRobbie’s Eyes Without a Face, published by Gallery Editions in 1960. Gallery Editions, edited by Avrom Isaacs, was one of the tangible products of the Contact Readings (hosted at Isaacs’s Greenwich Gallery and then Isaacs Gallery) from 1957-1962.
Souster’s Place of Meeting, also published by Gallery Editions (1962).
One side of a broadside presenting this list of readers in the Contact Poetry Reading Series on one side, and a poem by Souster (“Charles Olson at the Ford Hotel”) on the other. Text at the bottom: “Information Courtesy of LETTERS BOOKSHOP.”
A broadside index of authors published by Contact Press, prepared by Nicky Drumbolis (who else?). “CONTACT” as the top is printed by the same linocut used for Contact magazine. Signed by the seven poets that read at Harbourfront on January 28, 1986 at a Contact retrospective.
Bottom of the same Contact-index broadside: “Good writing provides CONTACT between words and the locality that breeds them.”
Other Canadians (1947), published by John Sutherland’s First Statement Press, a spiritual forerunner and practical working model to Contact Press.
Al Purdy’s Poems for all the Annettes, published by Contact Press in 1962 and reprinted by House of Anansi in 1968. This is, obviously, the reprint.
Margaret Atwood’s The Circle Game, published by Contact Press in 1966 and reprinted by House of Anansi in 1967.
A small advertisement for Contact Press titles. I do not know the source of this one.
Published in the McGill Poetry Series, Number 9 (1965).
Published in the McGill Poetry Series, Number 3 (1957).
Ellenbogen’s Winds of Unreason contains drawings by Peter Daglish throughout.
New Wave Canada Portfolio, issued as an insert for Island 7/8 in 1967. From Nicky Drumbolis, in his inventory to Contact Press: “including a poem from 14 of the 17 contributors to the anthology [New Wave Canada] […] each poem is here included in the poet’s holograph facsimile. [Victor] Coleman produced this collection as a testament to his uncredited involvement in organizing a list of potential contributors to the anthology.”
Published by Cameron Anstee
Cameron Anstee lives and writes in Ottawa ON where he runs Apt. 9 Press and is pursuing a PhD in English Literature at the University of Ottawa.
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